Eric Potts – from New Brighton to Brighton

eric_potts

From the Brighton v Luton programme in September 1977:

Eric Potts joined the Albion from Sheffield Wednesday in June this year. His energetic and busy style of play had made him a real favourite with the Hillsborough crowd and in 1976 the knowledgeable Yorkshire fans voted him ‘Player of the Year’. Before joining Wednesday he had spells with Oswestry, New Brighton and Blackpool but throughout his career to date representative honours have always eluded him.

Christened Eric Stanley, he was born in Liverpool on March 16, 1950 and was educated in that famous city. In fact, the latter part of his schooldays were spent at the Anfield Comprehensive School, within a stone’s throw of that shrine of football, the home of Liverpool FC.

The Potts household gives the man of the house plenty of female company as, in addition to wife Linda, Eric has two lovely daughters, Jennifer and Deborah. Pop music often provides the home entertainment and Eric admits to being a fan of most brands of this kind of music.

For relaxation filmgoing features among Eric’s interests and he lists Kirk Douglas and Natalie Wood as the stars he enjoys most. If asked his favourite country Sweden is the immediate answer. Where likes end dislikes are concerned among foods fish and steak are his most popular dishes.

Fascinating stuff!

Like many of Albion’s very happy squad, Eric’s main ambition is to play first division football with the Seagulls but looking back the high spot of his career was playing against the legendary Pele when with Sheffield Wednesday.

In ‘A Light in the North – Seven Years With Aberdeen’, Alex Ferguson wrote a fine summary of what a ‘supersub’ was, when he described bringing on eventual match winner John Hewitt against Bayern Munich on a famous night in 1982/83:

‘John is a tremendous substitute and although he lacks the consistency for a full game, he can come on and change a match and often score. Some players are not good substitutes. They are not used to it mainly because they take a long time to get warmed up and cannot get into the swing of a game, but John is excellent is this role.’

Go back five years, and into the English Second Division, and that description would have been apt for Eric Potts. The winger and midfielder played for Brighton & Hove Albion for just that one season, in 1977/78, and yet he claims a place in club folklore for his goalscoring exploits as substitute.

Joining Brighton from the Owls in a £14,000 deal, the red-headed signing made his Albion debut as the number seven in the club’s opening fixture, at Cambridge in the League Cup. In the next round’s replay at Oldham, he notched up his first goal for the Seagulls. The 5ft 5in winger held onto his starting place until he lost out to Tony Towner for the visit to Tottenham in November. From this point onwards, Potts only started five more matches for Brighton, such was the form of Towner, and it was in the number twelve shirt that Potts made his most memorable impact.

He scored Brighton’s second against Scarborough in the 3-0 win in the FA Cup 3rd Round in January 1978. Then, sensationally, he hit two goals in the last two minutes against Sunderland the following month, as Albion overturned a 1-0 deficit, after future Brighton loanee Jeff Clarke had given the Rokerites the lead. I know that match was televised by Southern TV but, sadly, I haven’t yet been able to track down the video footage. All I can offer is this image of the flame-haired one celebrating his winner:

pottssupersub2

Returned by Alan Mullery to the starting line-up, Potts opened the scoring against Stoke in a 2-1 win at the Goldstone in March. Then, combining well with John Ruggiero, Potts hit the late, solitary goal at Blackburn that these produced delirious scenes amongst the visiting players:

pottsgoalvblackburn2

And how did his manager reward his match winner for the next match? Yes, by dropping him to the bench for the Tottenham game, for the second time that season. Nevertheless, unperturbed, when he came on, ‘Supersub’ scored in the second half to clinch a famous 3-1 win. And that concluded Potts’ goalscoring at Brighton. Five League goals, four of which were as substitute.

Here he is, in action in his Albion swan song, against Blackpool on the final day of the season:

blackpool_potts

Once the season ended, he joined Preston for £37,000 in August 1978 before closing his Football League career with Burnley from 1980 and Bury for two seasons from 1982.

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